Can You Win Social Security Disability Without Going to a Hearing?
Winning Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income Benefits at the application level and avoiding a Social Security Disability hearing is not impossible, but it can be difficult. How can you increase your chances of winning benefits at the Social Security Disability application level? The best way is to understand the Social Security Disability process and how the Social Security Administration will make the determination about whether or not you are disabled and unable to work.
The Social Security Administration uses a five-step approach called the Sequential Evaluation Process to determine if claimants are disabled and unable to find a job given their current physical or mental limitations. Under the Sequential Evaluation Process the Social Security Administration will ask:
- Are you working? Work (as defined by the Social Security Administration) is making more than a certain amount every month. The amount is updated periodically but for 2010 the claimant is allowed to make $1000 per month (blind individuals can make $1,640 per month)
- Is your medical condition severe? Severe medical conditions are those which will last at least 12 months and do not allow or severely limit a claimants ability to perform basic work activities.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The List of Impairments is maintained by the SSA and describes groups of mental and physical health conditions which are so severe that a claimant is unable to work. If the claimants condition is not on the List of Impairments the SSA will continue to step 4.
- Can you do the work you did before? If the claimants medical condition is too severe to perform their current job the SSA will continue to step 5. If the condition enables them to continue working Social Security Disability Benefits are denied.
- Can you do any other type of work? If a claimants condition is too severe for the claimant to continue in their current line of work the SSA evaluates whether or not there is any other job they would be qualified to perform in the current economy. The SSA will make this determination by evaluating the claimants age, medical health condition, education, past work experiences and any additional skills the claimant possesses. Claimants who can be retrained for other types of employment are denied Social Security Disability benefits. Claimants who can not perform their current job and can not be retrained for any other type of employment are considered disabled and given Social Security Disability Benefits. Whether or not the claimant qualifies for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) will depend on whether or not they have enough work credits. The amount of credits and the amount of Social Security Disability benefits paid will depend on how old you are and when you became disabled. Claimants who do not qualify for Social Security Disability Income may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits if they meet the Social Security Administrations income and resource requirements.
Understanding the determination process, understanding the List of Impairments and documenting your mental or physical health conditions clearly and concisely can greatly increase your chances of having your Social Security Disability application approved at the first level and avoiding a hearing. The Social Security Administration is responsible for gathering current and accurate medical records but following-up and sending medical records you already have can also be helpful. Many claimants also increase their chances of getting Social Security Disability benefits by hiring a competent Social Security Disability lawyer who can follow and review the process every step of the way.